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Off to Baguio with the kids

  By JOHNNA VILLAVIRAY GIOLAGON IT’S wonderfully cold in Baguio: 14 °C. Some mornings, the temperature goes down to 13 °C. It’s a perfect destination for a family weekend vacation. Below is a list of activities the kids can enjoy on a two-day stay: Day 1: A basket of strawberries you pick yourself cost P500

Jan 9, 2015

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By JOHNNA VILLAVIRAY GIOLAGON

IT’S wonderfully cold in Baguio: 14 °C. Some mornings, the temperature goes down to 13 °C.

It’s a perfect destination for a family weekend vacation.

Below is a list of activities the kids can enjoy on a two-day stay:

Day 1:

A basket of strawberries you pick yourself cost P500 per kilo. One kilo is worth P100 just outside the strawberry fields and in the market.
A basket of strawberries you pick yourself cost P500 per kilo. One kilo is worth P100 just outside the strawberry fields and in the market.

Strawberry picking in La Trinidad, Benguet.

It’s just about half hour away from the city but it’s better to get there very early. This way, you get first crack at the reddest, biggest strawberries. Plus, the sun can be punishing when you arrive too late in the morning.

Don’t be afraid of running out of strawberries. The fruits ripen in a matter of days so there should always be some even if visitors come in droves like during the last holiday season. The best ones could just be hiding under the leaves. Just don’t forget check that your perfect strawberry doesn’t have worm bites.

A kilo of strawberries – one heaping small basket – you pick yourself will set you back P500.

True, this is a 500 percent increase from those sold just beyond the fence and in the market.

But you pay for the experience, baby, and the smiles and squeals from the little ones as they gingerly make their way from patch to patch and pick out the each perfect strawberry after another.

Nature tripping in Camp John Hay

A butterfly settles quietly on a child's hand.
A butterfly settles quietly on a child’s hand.

Camp John Hay was an R&R facility for the American military. It is now a privately-run resort that boasts of a golf course and several cottages and hotels for tourists.

But, even if you made vacation plans late and ran out of rooms, there are plenty of areas open to the public for free.

The kids will have a great time running under giant pine trees across sloping but well-manicured grounds.

To those who want to walk with a destination, try the Eco Trail.

It’s an easy walk that starts near the Butterfly Sanctuary and ends near the Victory Liner terminal at the city center. Simply follow the path of orange dirt through the forest and past wooden bridges. You won’t get lost.

To those insistent on spending, the butterfly sanctuary is worth the P40 entrance fee.

There aren’t as many butterflies and flowers as one would expect, but your kids will walk away educated on butterflies and with the experience of getting up close and personal with the butterflies.

Visitors aren’t allowed to handle the butterflies themselves but the Kuya Caretaker will catch one and get them to pose on you for souvenir photos.

That explains the reminder posted conspicuously at the entrance: Bawal ang low-batt.

Other attractions open for a fee are the Paintball Republic and Treetop Adventure but they do have age and height restrictions so very small children will be limited to watching the adults enjoy.

Horeseback-riding at Wright Park

You can choose a horse-drawn buggy that goes around the pool near the entrance or take the steps down the park to ride the horse yourself.

Thirty minutes of horsing around with the steed of your choice costs P200 while an hour costs P300.

While you’re there, don’t’ forget to pose for photos in front of The Mansion, the President’s official residence in Baguio City. It’s right across the road from the park.

Day 2:

Cycling and Boating in Burnham Park

Boats with figureheads like the classical swan or silly ones like cartoon characters are a hit with visitors.
Boats with figureheads like the classical swan or silly ones like cartoon characters are a hit with visitors.

The place can easily take half of your day so it is advisable to have breakfast somewhere near.

For starters, you can rent a boat for P100. Paddling a small boat sounds easy but simply coordinating your limbs to navigate the lagoon can already take too many precious minutes from your half hour.

The water is slimy green so try not to splash any on you or the other tourists making their way around. Concentrate on the lovely trees with branches and leaves overhanging the water.

Next try riding a bike for P40 for an hour.

Children won’t be as careful when biking as adults so prepare for some boisterous speedsters who might not necessarily know how to handle a bike or speed. Be aware also that some parents or guardians would not be as aware of their ward’s behavior; pack extra patience to deal with other adults.

The playground has enough equipment to keep the maximum number of kids happy at any one time. Remember to supervise your own children and be kind enough to watch out for others close by.

La Presa in Tuba, Benguet

The Mt. Province grows beautiful vegetables.
The Mt. Province grows beautiful vegetables.

The village’s actual name is Sitio Pungayan, but do not worry about asking for directions for the fictional La Presa. People you meet on the highway going to Tuba will give you directions even before you ask anything. They know why you’re there.

But apart from the excitement of seeing the TV set, the place offers a 360-degree view of nature’s majesty. Mountains and trees all around.

The viewing deck at the Radar Station will give you the perfect vantage point to absorb the sights.

Other places – like the Lion’s Head, Mines View Park, a visit to the Cathedral or the Pink Sisters, and the public market – you can squeeze in between these destinations. These stops will provide a welcome respite from the kids’ frenzied exploring.

And, above all, remember that a vacation is more than photographs or memories that you store away. It’s about experiencing life with the people who matter most – your children.

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